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Holland America introduces iPod art tour

SmarterTravel

These days, cruise lines always seem to be one-upping each other. Princess introduces a giant outdoor movie screen, so Royal Caribbean debuts onboard surfing. Norwegian expands its dining options to include every cuisine imaginable, so Costa expands its spa to include direct cabin access.

Then along comes Holland America. What does it throw into the mix? Art tours on iPods.

That’s right, guests can sign out one of the ship’s iPods free of charge and take a 40- to 50-minute tour of the ship’s art and antiques collection. Guests learn how artistic pieces—such as a pipe carved in the shape of a woman’s head and a silver-overlaid doorway—are incorporated in the design of the ship, rather than just added as a decorative afterthought. The narration also encourages cruisers to go on an art-seeking scavenger hunt for pieces not included in the tour.

The first iPod tours are now available on the ms Westerdam. The cruise line hopes to roll out the program fleetwide by the end of the year.

I heartily agree that looking at the eclectic art on cruise ships is fun. But I usually admire these elements in passing, as I’m headed to dinner or the pool deck. Or, I’ll attend a group lecture, especially if free champagne is involved. I’d be interested to know how many guests want to spend nearly an hour onboard with a headset learning the ins and outs of a cruise ship’s art collection. Especially when an indulgent massage, a refreshing dip, or a decadent meal await.

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